Reloading: What Do I Need To Start?

Reloading: What Do I Need To Start?

The 16 Essential Items Needed To Start Reloading Your Own Ammo

Reloading ammo allows you to repurpose your brass casing and convert them into fresh rounds. Quite a lot of people do it. Why? Because it is cost-effective, allows you to be more self-sufficient and can help increase the accuracy of your gun.  You can also create ammunition using brand new brass but that does cost more.  It doesn’t matter if the brass is old or new, the process remains the same.

Are you new to reloading and wondering what you will need to get started? Below we discuss every item you will require to ensure that you are ready to start reloading your own ammo.  

Reloading Bench

Everyone, whether they are beginners or pros, needs a high-quality bench for reloading. Quite a lot of people ignore this equipment and reload on their dining tables or other areas. This does work for some people but definitely isn’t ideal.  An actual space where you can set up your equipment the way you want and leave it out will improve accuracy of your reloads and also improve efficiency. Reloading benches provide sturdy and ample workspace storage and reloading. Plus, the reloading bench keeps things organized and safe, which is vital, especially when working with ammunition.

Reloading Manual

The ballistic elements of particular components can change after some time. Components often undergo drastic changes, but their names remain the same. So, data also changes as time passes. Failing to stay updated on the powder and the other elements you are using can lead to dangerous consequences. So you should thoroughly read a reloading manual to understand the ins and outs of the cartridge you are reloading.  Reread the manuals to refresh your memory, especially if you do not have much experience.

9mm ammo

Single Stage Reloading Press

A single stage reloading press is a straightforward device. It has a single lever that allows you to execute the entire reloading process. Don’t let this equipment’s small size confuse you. It is a cost-effective yet practical solution to load ammunition. Of course, the speed and amount of production are not excellent, but it does the trick. It is most often used by beginners because it makes you be very involved in the reloading process and is a great way to learn the ins and outs. The press has a mechanical lever, which pushes the case into the unit’s reloading die. There are different dies for each action you are performing on the casing. One pull on the lever performs one action on one casing.  This is the reason it takes a long time to reload a lot of ammo.  This is also the reason you are the most involved in the process vs using other presses. There are other reloading press types too, the turret reloading press and the progressive reloading press.

Turret Reloading Press

You will notice quite a lot of similarities between the turret press and the single-stage press. Some turret press models eliminate the need for indexing manually (changing dies) by replacing it with an automatic index. Turret presses still need several strokes for every completed round, but its high speed makes up for this minor inconvenience.  The turret press allows for multiple dies to be on the press at once.  Each pull of the lever performs an action on the casing. Then the turret rotates to another die and the next pull performs a different action on the casing.  This is the same basic function of the single stage press without having to change dies out. A turret press can be an ideal beginner’s press for pistol or rifle cartridges. People with reloading experience also use it.

Progressive Reloading Press

A progressive reloading press performs an action on multiple rounds with each pull of the lever.  It has multiple dies attached to it and multiple casing on the plate.  With each pull, one casing is getting resized, one is getting deprimed/primed and so on. Progressive reloading presses can create cartridges at a high rate. Most of these machines can produce two to three hundred cartridges per hour.

These machines have significantly better reloading processes as companies mainly design them with high-quality deburring and measuring features.  A progressive reloading press is also a cost-effective option to develop customized ammunition.

Reloading Die Set

A die set consists of multiple separate dies. One of them is for resizing and brings back an expanded and fired case to its factory dimensions. It also removes the primer fired earlier. Resizing is essential because once a cartridge is fired, it will expand and lose its original shape.  You will need to purchase a die set for each caliber you are planning on reloading. You have to attach the dies onto your preferred reloading press and use it to produce each cartridge you reload. Dies are the specific tool that lets you use brass casings that have already been fired but you will also need them if you are planning on using new brass as well.  

rifle ammo

Case Lubricant

You will need a case lubricant for lubricating your cases before resizing them. Not doing so could jam your casings inside the die.

Priming Unit

Reloading experts utilize priming units for maximum accuracy. Almost every loading press in the market comes with priming units that deprime the old casing and inserts a new primer.  Some single stage presses may not in which case you will have to buy one separately and do it by hand.

Powder Scale

You must ensure that you place a precise quantity of powder in every case. So, you will need to weigh the powder charge very carefully. Powder scales can provide accurate adjustment of various powder measures and avoid problems such as underfills or overfills. Reloading companies also have powder dispensers that dispense the exact amount of powder you need.

Powder Funnel

Inserting the gunpowder inside the case is practically impossible without powder funnels. It is simple yet efficient equipment and can work with the smallest of cases (22 calibers.) You can also use it for massive 45 caliber cases.

Casing Tumbler

New brass casings will be a significant cost if you plan on using only new.  If you plan on reusing brass, a casing tumbler will be essential. Consider investing in a casing tumbler if you want to clean your cases efficiently. Casing tumblers are an excellent addition to a gun reloader’s arsenal. Why? Because it cleans hundreds of cases within hours. Casing tumblers are on of the few set it and forget it parts of reloading your own ammo. All you do is  insert your used casings, polishing powder, cleaning media inside the tumbler, and shut its lid. Switch on the casing tumbler, and your casings will be clean and ready to use in no time.

Loading Blocks

Loading blocks are a must-have for everyone who aspires to reload ammunition without anybody’s help. They firmly grip the cases in an assembled manner. Using two of these blocks would be ideal.

Digital Caliper or Dial Indicator

You will need a digital caliper or a high-quality dial indicator for measuring case lengths after trimming and determining the seated primers’ accurate depth. These devices also come in handy to preserve an adequate overall length of the cartridge. Calipers are quite inexpensive and durable and can last for decades.

45 auto ammo hornady

Case Trimmer

As discussed earlier, cases stretch when you fire them. Their bodies become shorter after resizing, but their necks often become extended in this process. Sometimes, the casings change their shape entirely. That said, you can always trim your case to ensure it returns to a working condition. You may require a shell holder for some trimmer types. Remember, case length can make or break, reliable, smooth, and accurate function of your gun’s action and you can use a case trimmer to achieve that.

Deburring Tool

Burrs often form outside and inside the case mouth during trimming. Use a deburring tool to instantly smoothen the case, ensuring it is ready to reload. Every reloaded should deburr the casings, particularly in the case mouth.

Primer Pocket Cleaner

You will notice a black, crusty, and hard deposit in your primer pocket after decapping. Never let the waste build as the deposit can impact the primer seating, leading to inaccuracy. An unclean primer will always be a hazard, so you should invest in a high-quality primer pocket cleaner.

Final Word

Remember, the cost of the essential tools mentioned above will vastly vary because of several factors. The brand, type and features of each piece of equipment you buy will come into play.  If you are just starting out, we would recommend buying some of the less expensive pieces, just to see if you like reloading your own ammo.  If it turns out you do, then splurge for the best but if not, you won’t be out a ton of money. Reloading companies will also sell reloading kits that have just about everything you need in them as well. Returns on your investment will most likely be slow since you won’t be saving a ton of money per shot.  If you do shoot enough though, you will gain it back quicker than you think. Here is a handy calculator from Ultimate Reloader that will help you estimate costs and savings. Also keep in mind that you will need a supply of casings, bullets, powder, and primers to start reloading. You can start reusing your brass once you get a supply of used ones.  Another tip is to contact your local shooting range or police department.  Sometimes they will let you come pick up the used brass that people don’t want at the range. 

Happy Reloading!


Hey I'm Karson. I've been hunting since I was 8 and shed hunting even before that. If you have any questions for me, fill out a form on the contact page, send me an email at or leave a comment on the below. Thanks